The horrifying ordeal of a Brooklyn couple trapped inside their car for 32 hours on a remote stretch of the Adirondack Northway has rallied their family and neighbors. The story of Mr. Langer A”H who froze to death while his wife, lay immobilized while waiting for help, is the focal point of a new push to get cellphone towers built in the Adirondack Park along one of the state’s most desolate highways. (More photos in YW Photo Album)
The anger has turned an Adirondack issue into a downstate issue as well. Some lawmakers predict the tragedy may finally force some kind of deal allowing the construction of cellphone towers.
Thousands of people attended Alfred Langer’s funeral on Sunday. They were furious, saying the couple’s suffering could have been prevented. “If there were cell towers, I’m convinced my father-in-law would be alive,” one person said.
The accident happened on a 70-mile stretch where there is no cellphone service. Even though emergency call boxes dot the highway, both were too injured to venture out. Trees obscured their car from passing motorists.
While they awaited rescue, Alfred Langer tried to keep his wife’s spirits up. “We’re not going to die. No way. We’re going to live,” Langer told her.
Thirteen hours after the crash, he slipped into unconsciousness and died of hypothermia. His wife shouted to try to keep him awake, Herbst said.
It was another 19 hours before a state trooper finally spotted their vehicle.
Barbara Langer is still in Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vt. Doctors have told the family they expect her to make a full recovery, according to Herbst.
The issue of cellphone service on the Northway has been brewing in the Adirondacks for years. This week, downstate lawmakers and their constituents are expressing shock it hadn’t been settled sooner.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, said he will inject himself into the issue.
“But not just because of this tragedy. There’s a bigger issue here. It’s not just the Adirondacks where I can’t get service. I could be standing on 14th Street and Seventh Avenue. It’s a disgrace that these large companies that advertise for us to use their coverage have dead spots in the middle of the city.”
“Maybe something good will come of this terrible tragedy,” he said.
Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, said he, too, has heard from constituents. Both he and Hikind attended Langer’s funeral.
Golden said he plans to support legislation being crafted by Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, who has been heavily involved in the issue for years.
Golden said he would support some kind of subsidy making the construction of cell towers more financially palatable. Permits have been in place to build a series of 38-foot towers along the Northway for several years, but no vendors have shown interest.
He also warned that environmental groups will need to compromise. “The Adirondack Council will have to be willing to go the distance, too,” he said. The environmental group supports the plan for shorter towers, but maintains that 100-foot towers, like the kind Little and cellphone companies want to build, are illegal.
John Sheehan, president of the Adirondack Council, said Sunday that his group wants cellphone coverage on the Northway, but won’t be pressured by this latest incident to give into whatever the wireless industry wants.
(Source: Times Union)